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  • Travel by car through Ukraine-tips needed

    Hi

    My name is Daniel Veres and I am planning a trip through most of Ukraine, crossing it from west (Cernivtski) to the Russain border in the East (heading towards the Caucasus). Grateful for any tips concerning the best roads we shall take. Is there any possibility to cross the Kerchi strait by ferry ?

    Thank you in advance

    Daniel

  • #2
    Hi Daniel,
    I'm an Englishman who has driven in Ukraine and I'll be going again in 4 days to remain and drive for about 4 months. Here's what i can offer. I enter Ukraine at Medyka, Poland.

    Firstly you'll need insurance, the 'green card' must have Ukraine included. They will check this and your car registration/ownership documents at the border, which, incidentally, is a 5 hour wait in a queue with people pushing their way through with any excuse they can get.

    In the Ukrainian side of the border you will be given a slip of paper with the number of car occupants on it and you will pass through 2 booths next to each other. The first is passport control and they will also look inside your vehicle. The second is customs who will ask a couple of questions and put a stamp on this slip of paper. Without this stamp, you cannot exit the border area.

    Once inside the border the fun starts. Don't be fooled by the 'ok' quality of the roads for the first few kilometers, they rather large potholes will soon start. Approx 2km inside the border, expect to be stopped by the police who will once again want to inspect your documents, particularly car and health insurance. if you're British, health insurance is optional and they damn well know it, so don't take any hassle if they try to get a bribe. The UK government advice if they try to take money at the roadside is to insist on a visit to the police station to speak to their superiors and the consulate. But, unfortnately, a bribe is quicker if you have something that's not right.

    So, the bit you've been waiting for, the driving. I don't recall the speed limits exactly but i recall that where there are speed humps, you can only travel at 20kph and the police are ready to catch you if you're not. I'm told on the main roads outside towns, the limit is 'as fast as you dare for the conditions'. But I think 90kph is maybe the limit.

    On all roads, keep an eye out for large holes - and I mean large! Dont' be fooled by a stretch that looks like it's in good condition, i did this and put my foot down only to find suddden very large holes around a corner. With this in mind, you can fully expect cars coming round blind corners on your side of the road in order to avoid these holes.

    There are some 'motorways', well, slightly better quality roads in Ukraine but as yet I've not had the pleasure of driving on one. But, I do hear that road deaths are high and driving standards are particularly poor. Be warery of going too fast and watch out for police making stops to boost their bribe income, especially around any holiday times when they need a little extra booze money.

    In towns, I've found that there are rarely any road markings and signs are positioned so they are difficult to see, if they are present at all. I highly recommend being vigilant and taking great care. You will also find that pedestrians just cross when and where they want with the traffic driving around them. My tactic was to observe the locals and see how they handle things. One other thing, some traffic lights have a green arrow on a painted sign attached to them pointing right, I believe this means that you can always turn right as if a 'give way' junction.

    Exiting Ukraine was a much less painful affair lasting only 2.5 hours, most of the delays being the Polish customs side of things. We had to wait a while whilst the Ukrainians finished their breakfast and felt like manning thier post. On the Polish side, be aware of the restrictions on articles such as meat and cheese; which I believe has a limit of zero. There is also a limit of 1 litre of vodka per person and I don't know how many cigarettes, maybe 2 packs. There is a high level of smuggling going on so expect the customs guards to be inquisitive. However, our car was packed to the roof with 3 Ukrainian girls and me - a cheerful looking Polish chap at customs took a cursory look around the car and asked the mandatory 'alkohol/papierosy?' before letting us go. However, others were not so lucky, the female customs officer seemed to take pleasure in totally emptying cars and some people were sent to queue at what looked like a vehicle inspection garage which I suspect takes many hours. One guy seemed pretty cocky with the guards and that's the queue he ended up in.

    As for what to carry in your car, I have the usual requirements for Europe, the headlamp beam benders, the triangle, first aid kit, extinguisher etc - but none of this was checked at the border.

    Remain vigitalnt, polite and well prepared and you'll be fine. On the whole Ukrainians are a respectful helpful people but they are down on their luck and the temptation to make a bit of extra cash our of foreigners is a little too much for some.

    I would also suggest learning the Ukrainian alphabet at least so you can make sense of the road signs. If you can, learn some phrases, they are always welcoming to people who are trying to communicate in Ukrainian (Just don't try Russian In Western Ukraine - you might get a frosty reception)

    I hope this is of some help.

    All the best wishes for your journey

    Tony

    Comment


    • #3
      My best advice is avoid car travel at ALL costs.. go by coach or by train.. MUCH safer and probably quicker and more comfortable.. I have just travelled from Kiev to Mariupol by coach and wasn`t stopped once by police.. I am travelling back to Kiev in 2 weeks by train.. coach was 130.. train is 180..
      John 3/16

      Comment


      • #4
        One more thing. I did read an article somewhere about the traffic polic stopping people and the suggestion there was to keep them talking. If you've done nothing wrong and there are no fault, heck, I suppose even if you have, if you keep chatting in English I'm sure they'll just give up and send you on your way. It's worked for me a couple of times in Poland. But they do wonder why I always seem to understand perfectly when they tell me to go

        Comment


        • #5
          Nothing is better than travelling by the lada automobile

          Originally posted by TheToad View Post
          One more thing. I did read an article somewhere about the traffic polic stopping people and the suggestion there was to keep them talking. If you've done nothing wrong and there are no fault, heck, I suppose even if you have, if you keep chatting in English I'm sure they'll just give up and send you on your way. It's worked for me a couple of times in Poland. But they do wonder why I always seem to understand perfectly when they tell me to go

          Looks fine but as far as I know it will not go so smoothly in Ukraine. My son-in-law who lives in Warsaw like me, travelled to Crimea and police never stopped him on the way. He used old Russian-made lada car and it turned out to be a key for success. A border between Poland and Ukraine can be a big stress. Sometimes you need to wait for hours there. There is enormous tobacco/alcohol smuggling towards the Poland direction and the "ants" bringing those little amounts of allowable liquor portions make a big crowd. There are some strange Ukrainians moving around and offering "alternative channel to the customs" for certain amount of money. It would probably be the best to cross the border very early in the morning.
          Hi The Toad, could you express your general opinion on travelling by car in Poland by the way? We in Poland are very critical of our roads and traffic and it would be productive to know foreign opinion on the matter.
          Last edited by Zbyszek; 16 July 2009, 17:31.

          Comment


          • #6
            - Most important advise for foreign drivers - BE VERY CAREFUL! - try to avoide driving at night (because of most roads badly lit), expect some locals driving really rude - also situation improved a bit during last half-year - with penalties rising about 15 times (starting from 255uah - about 25 euros).
            In most cases police uses speed-traps - if you see "50" sign - be ready to meet them - but drivers normally would worn you - flashing their lights. But police can ofocially only write protocol - so I think they wouldn't stop foreign cars - it's much easier for them to get what they want from Ukrainians.
            Most of drivers on inter-city roads are driving 100-130 km - try to go with de rest of the flow.
            Driving across unknown cities is not easy even for locals - as there really not enough of route-expalining signs.
            About border - crossing at Shegyni-Medyka normally takes less than hour - for foreigners there is even faster line.

            There is ferry from Kerch to Russia - 8 times a day.

            If anybody needs car transfer to\from Lviv (or any other city) from/to Poland - feel free to write PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by nickcsadler View Post
              My best advice is avoid car travel at ALL costs.. go by coach or by train.. MUCH safer and probably quicker and more comfortable.. I have just travelled from Kiev to Mariupol by coach and wasn`t stopped once by police.. I am travelling back to Kiev in 2 weeks by train.. coach was 130.. train is 180..
              Hello..............

              I agree with you. Ya coach or minibus are better than car. I think coach is safe for trip. We are company provide Coach Hire for you from social events to any of your family trips, but only in U.K . We can offer comfortable and luxiuries coach hire at a compitative rate.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Daniel,

                I have been driving around Ukraine for the last two months (nearly) and we are going home next week. Your car can only stay in Ukraine for 60 days unless you imported it permanently.

                Tips assuming you are English:

                After nearly two months the cops have only stopped us once, my wife was driving at the time as I had had a few refreshments ;-) we had all documents in order. The copper said we should have had a "GB" sticker on the back of the car. We had taken our magnetic GB sticker off in case someone here nicked it. We have put it back on. He let us go. Cops stare at a car with UK plates and seem to ignore us.

                Regarding insurance as mentioned above you only seem to be able to get it on the Ukrainian side. So unless you want to cross on foot to buy it first as suggested above, make this your very first thing you say to the Ukrainian passport chappy when you meet him/her "I need to buy some insurance for the car. Where can I get it?". I assume you or your wife speaks some Russian or Ukrainian. This was our approach and we had no problems crossing with our family.

                I suspect the insurance you get, which costs about ten pounds, is not worth the paper it is written on so be careful!

                Driving tips:

                The E40 goes all the way across Ukraine from Poland to Russia (ultimately ending in a field somewhere in Kazakhstan I believe). There are quite a lot of roadworks but its not a bad road. We travelled most of the distance from Rivne to Kiev at night - though I'd be very careful if you plan do do this. We are in Lugansk presently not far from the Russian border. It took us about 24 hrs in driving time to get here from the Poland/Ukraine border.

                A car with as much ground clearance as possible would be good.

                Don't go into the centere of Lviv unless you are driving a tractor - worst roads I have ever seen. Shockingly bad even by Ukrainian standards.

                Not so many pot holes on the E40 - Elsewhere be very careful

                Roads are rather bumpy

                People here steal man hole covers (to sell for scrap to buy vodka). Other more considerate folks may stick a truck tyre or tree branch in the hole so you dont lose your car in the shaft ;-) I have a photo of one tree branch that has been there so long that it has taken root.

                Many traffic lights are broken others so dim/dirty you cant see the red light during the day

                Road markings poor to non existant

                Make sure you understand what fuel you are putting in your car - they still sell leaded fuel here.

                Minor roads can be extremely uneven and difficult in places even at 5 mph; be warned!

                To put all this in perspecitve I have bottomed out the car once and the suspension once during the trip so far. The wife and the father in law (Ukrainian) bottomed out the car once each. No damage. Drive carefully and enjoy your trip. The roads here are straight compared to UK and there is virtually no traffic (except in Kiev).

                I hope you enjoy your visit as much as we are! Its a great country!

                Cheers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I haven't been able to find an insurance company anywhere, much less so in Kremenchug, after purchasing a car this past week. Are the border crossing insurance companies only located there (that sounds ridiculous I know but is the only information I can find on the subject). I;m stuck in a hotel looking at the car instead of driving it. Does anyone else know ? I tried searching here as I would have thought there would be advertisements, but found nothing. I appreciate the information ahead of time.
                  Last edited by Bovrah; 23 June 2013, 14:06.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Temporary Import of motor cars into Ukraine.

                    I believe the amount of time you have owned the motor car is important to the length of time it is allowed to remain in Ukraine. I have owned my car for more than three years and I was told that I can keep it in Ukraine for up to one year. It is conditional that I am the only person who will drive it and it is for leisure purposes only. If I wish to keep it here longer, I must register it in Ukraine and pay the high import tax. Except that in my case it isn't an option because they will nor register a car with the steering wheel on the right hand side.

                    If you have owned the car for a shorter period, especially if you have just bought it, there are shorter enter and stay periods involved. It may be limited to two months only. Be aware that the card entry details are recorded against your name and passport number. If you don't remove the vehicle within the time limit, I have every confidence they will question you the next time you present yourself at any Ukrainian frontier point.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gotno Gizmo View Post
                      If I wish to keep it here longer, I must register it in Ukraine and pay the high import tax. Except that in my case it isn't an option because they will nor register a car with the steering wheel on the right hand side.
                      Funny. Looks like you found a loophole.



                      See whats been posted in the past day.


                      Contact forum moderators here.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gotno Gizmo View Post
                        I believe the amount of time you have owned the motor car is important to the length of time it is allowed to remain in Ukraine. I have owned my car for more than three years and I was told that I can keep it in Ukraine for up to one year. It is conditional that I am the only person who will drive it and it is for leisure purposes only. If I wish to keep it here longer, I must register it in Ukraine and pay the high import tax. Except that in my case it isn't an option because they will nor register a car with the steering wheel on the right hand side.

                        If you have owned the car for a shorter period, especially if you have just bought it, there are shorter enter and stay periods involved. It may be limited to two months only. Be aware that the card entry details are recorded against your name and passport number. If you don't remove the vehicle within the time limit, I have every confidence they will question you the next time you present yourself at any Ukrainian frontier point.
                        Pretty close to the mark there Gotno, although I've just found out (unofficially) that, now, you MUST register the car WITHIN 20 DAYS of entering & you'll be given Red plates.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Travelling by car can be a tiring affair. There are many roads in an extremely poor state of repair and can be be most damaging to most vehicles other than robust 4 x 4s. Some of the worst roads I have experienced are in the Donbas region, and between Turnopil and the Romania, Hungary and Slovak borders.

                          I have been stopped several times by the road police tell them in English that I don't understand them (which is true) and show them my vehicle registration document, motor insurance which is English and make it very obvious that I have commited no offence (because I haven't) and that I have no intention of paying a Kopek. They usually bid me Dos Verdanya after 5 minutes!

                          As for the red plate registration, it has never been required for my right hand drive car.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gotno Gizmo View Post
                            Travelling by car can be a tiring affair. There are many roads in an extremely poor state of repair and can be be most damaging to most vehicles other than robust 4 x 4s. Some of the worst roads I have experienced are in the Donbas region, and between Turnopil and the Romania, Hungary and Slovak borders.

                            I have been stopped several times by the road police tell them in English that I don't understand them (which is true) and show them my vehicle registration document, motor insurance which is English and make it very obvious that I have commited no offence (because I haven't) and that I have no intention of paying a Kopek. They usually bid me Dos Verdanya after 5 minutes!

                            As for the red plate registration, it has never been required for my right hand drive car.
                            Yeah, as you say, they won't register a RHD, period. I was thinking of getting a car from England but was afraid of 'consequences'. Have you had any dramas? And how have you owned the car & how low long in UKR? And NO mate I'm not the police

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Entry of UK registered vehicle

                              rcshott: The UK registered car (RHD) is previously owned by me for more than 3 years. I have yesterday exited Ukraine after keeping it in Ukraine for the maximum period of one year. I am advised (perhaps incorrectly) that future entries with the car will be limited to 2 months duration. However, I have no intention of returning it to Ukraine as punishment to the car is noticeable and I do not wish to devalue its resale price too much.

                              Driving with a RHD vehicle is more difficult when attempting to overtake slow trucks especially. Sometimes the fact that vehicles are being driven on the crown of the road to avoid road defects, enables me to look up the inside of the vehicle to the road ahead. Another method is to wait for another car to overtake me and the vehicle ahead, then pull out quickly behind it to see if it's safe to follow. The left hand rear view door mirror does have a blind spot once a vehicle is closing from the rear and I have been startled on a few occasions by a car suddenly overtaking me that was unexpected. This can be dangerous if changing direction suddenly to avoid a pothole.

                              I summary, if I return to Ukraine with a motor, it will be LHD and a more robust model!

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